James Allison “Cap” Colehour, the last Civil War veteran buried in Otter Tail County, will be honored in a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 9 at Lakewood Cemetery in Battle Lake.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is conducting the ceremony with the assistance of Jay Johnson, the great-grandson of James Colehour, the Prospect House and Civil War Museum of Battle Lake, members of the Battle Lake American Legion Post 289 and Civil War reenactors from the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.
James “Cap” Colehour was born in Pennsylvania on Jan. 28, 1842. His family relocated to Illinois, where Colehour enlisted in Company I of the 92nd Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry on Sept. 4, 1862. The unit became a special forces unit of mounted infantry under Colonel John Wilder, and after helping to secure the Union victory at the Battle of Hoover’s Gap in Tennessee, earned the name Wilder’s Lightning Brigade.
The unit also had the distinction of carrying the new Spencer repeating rifle. Colehour was wounded in the right shoulder at Chickamauga on Sept. 19, 1863. After rejoining his company in January of 1864, he was wounded in the left shoulder in Alabama. After four months of recovery, he rejoined his regiment again and served until his honorable discharge on June 21, 1865.
After 14 years working for the Postal Service in Chicago, Colehour moved to Otter Tail County’s Battle Lake in 1882. Colehour purchased land and then built and operated The Prospect Inn, a hotel that today is the Prospect House and Civil War Museum in Battle Lake.
Colehour was active in the Everts G.A.R. Post #138. He was the last surviving Civil War veteran in Otter Tail County and the last survivor of his regiment. He died on Dec. 25, 1938 in Battle Lake. More information on Cap Colehour can be found on the webpage for the Prospect House and Civil War Museum at prospecthousemuseum.org.
The Last Soldier ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 at Colehour’s grave at Lakewood Cemetery in Battle Lake. The ceremony is open to the public and any of Colehour’s descendants in the Battle Lake or Otter Tail County area are invited to attend.
William Colvill Camp #56, Department of Wisconsin, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War will be presiding over the ceremony. The Battle Lake American Legion will be firing a three-volley salute over Colehour’s grave. Cannon firing is also planned. The ceremony will feature the Last Soldier dedication ritual of the SUVCW and includes the placing of a Last Soldier Marker on the veteran’s grave.
Camp #56 of the Department of Wisconsin, whose territory includes the entire state of Minnesota, is engaged in the Last Solider Project, which has the goal of identifying and placing a marker on the grave of the last Union veteran buried in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties.